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The Thai military ordered relatives of red shirts who were killed during the April-May 2010 military crackdown on the red shirt protest to cancel a Buddhist ceremony to mourn the victims, claiming that the event could carry political connotations.

On Thursday afternoon, military officers stormed into Wat Kerdkan Udom in Khlong Luang District of Pathum Thani Province, north of Bangkok, and forced relatives of the anti-establishment red shirts who were killed during the April-May 2010 political violence to cancel a Buddhist ceremony to mourn the deaths.

According to Ubonwadee Chan, a representative of the victims’ relatives, the military officers reasoned that they did not want any political gathering to take place.

The organisers told the authorities that the event would not be a political one and asked for permission to hold the event in a private residence. The military, however, still gave orders to prohibit the event.

The event was banned after the junta received intelligence reports that key red shirt leaders would participate in the event, Khaosod English reported.  

A ceremony to mourn victims of the April-May 2010 political violence is usually organised on 10 April every year by families and relatives the victims. The events have usually been attended by leaders of the United Front of Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD), a red shirt group which allies itself with the Pheu Thai Party.

This year, it was initially planned to hold the ceremony at Wat Phlap Phla Chai in central Bangkok. However, the organisers had to downsize and relocate the function to a temple in Pathum Thani Province instead after the authorities prohibited the organisers from using the initial venue.  

Earlier, on Wednesday, Gen Prawit Wongsuwan, the junta’s Defence Minister, suggested that the event should be held in a private place or not be held at all because it might carry political implications.

"I am disappointed to see that those in power do not use their humanity in making decisions," Khaosod English quoted Jatuporn Prompan, one of the key UDD leaders, as saying. "I understand that in the current climate we cannot hold anniversary protests like we did in previous years. That’s why we decided to hold only Buddhist ceremonies."

Almost 100 people died in April-May 2010 during the military crackdown on the red shirt protest calling for an election. The suppression of the protest was authorized by Suthep Thaugsuban, then Deputy Prime Minister for security affairs under then PM Abhisit Vejjajiva of the Democrat Party.

On 10 April 2010 alone, the crackdown in the Rachadamnoen Avenue area left at least 25 people dead.

Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha, the junta leader and PM, and Gen Prawit Wongsuwan, the current Defence Minister, were among the military commanders involved in the April-May 2010 military crackdown.

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